Whether you’re a cloud vendor or not, put yourself in the shoes of one and ask yourself this question: If the industry as a whole knew how awesome your product was—if they really understood all the differentiating features and the benefits of using it—would they still get behind it? Would salespeople actively sell it? Would customers be lining up to buy it?
If you believe in your product, then by default you should be answering this question with a resounding “yes!” You know how valuable your product is, but how about everyone else? Unfortunately, the real picture of how others—consumers and salespeople alike—perceive our brand is oftentimes different than how we think they see it. And it’s this disconnect that is holding us back as an industry.
As you sit down to strategize your marketing plan for the coming year, now is a great time to consider what I like to call your “whirl factor.” How well does the end user understand and embrace the functionality and value of your product? Does your brand whirl around in their head when they have a need that your product could fill? If you offer security services, do they think of you when they need them? They need backup. Does your brand come to mind?
If your answer is a confident yes, then you understand the importance of what I’m talking about. If not, now would be a great time to get started building more brand equity, and no one can do it better than those who have already paved the way and are there to help. Yes, I’m talking about IT distributors and VARs. With the tools, the formula and the bandwidth to market your brand and service, they’re your best and strongest resource for increasing your “whirl factor.”
The importance of a good marketing execution plan cannot be overestimated, but here’s where we all get tripped up. Powerful marketing campaigns require the right investments. Sure, there are plenty of creative and strategic ways of stretching your dollar, but ultimately, building your brand requires a sincere investment, and not investing could cost you a whole lot more in the long run.
What’s more, if we take a minute to consider the bigger picture of where we’re at as a cloud industry, there’s even more to the story that needs to be told for the sake of the end user. It’s not enough to educate the community on your product when many of them are still struggling to understand the overall value of the cloud and what it means to them. Our marketing strategies must also attempt to fill these gaps because filling them will mean stronger brands for all of us.
We need a combined effort—vendors and salespeople on both the IT distributor side and the VAR side—to embrace the concept of truly educating the end user community about cloud. We need to tackle the fear and confusion that still looms over us to get our cloud brands swirling. We need to talk more about the value of the cloud from both a usability and profitability standpoint—not just about our own products. After all, if more people are looking to the cloud, opportunities for attracting their attention will increase for everyone.
But before you dive in, one word of caution: Whether you’re talking about your brand or cloud as a whole, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s only about business-to-consumer marketing. It’s critical to understand how to also market to the channel and, while it’s a different conversation than you’ll have with the end user community, it’s equally important. If you don’t have the industry behind your brand, you’re losing equity every day.
So, what are you waiting for? If you’re working with an IT distributor, dig in. Resources abound for ways to increase your brand equity. If you’re not working with a distributor, I suggest you look into it—today. A good distributor can help you achieve top-of-mind status in the heads of not just consumers, but their own salesforce and VARs, as well.
At Tech Data, we offer a diverse marketing program schedule where you can attack all of the challenges associated with building your brand, but we can’t do it without your buy-in. You have to take the first step. Get in touch with us to talk about marketing campaigns, floor days, webinar series, events and more—all supported by our in-house ad agency and public relations team. Leverage the marketing vehicles that exist to help you grow this year and well into the future. The possibilities are literally endless.
Bharath Natarajan is director of Product Marketing, TDCloud and Software Services at Tech Data. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly, and are part of Talkin' Cloud's annual platinum sponsorship.